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Politico: Republican Plan Duplicates Failed Talks

From the Associated Press:

GOP ‘fiscal cliff’ plan echoes failed budget talks

By By ANDREW TAYLOR | December 4, 2012

WASHINGTON (AP) — Republicans are proposing a "fiscal cliff" plan that revives ideas from failed budget talks with President Barack Obama last year, calling for raising the eligibility age for Medicare, lowering cost-of-living hikes for Social Security benefits and bringing in $800 billion in higher tax revenue.

What an unbiased headline and lead, huh?

In point of fact, Obama’s current ‘plan’ is a duplicate of his last budget that not a single Democrat in Congress voted for. That no one voted for. But for some reason the news media never describe it that way.

The counter to a White House plan last week relies more on politically sensitive spending cuts and would raise half the $1.6 trillion in revenue proposed by Obama over the coming decade…

Why should spending cuts be any more "politically sensitive" than tax increases? In fact, it should be the other way around.

Administration officials from Obama on down say it’ll take money from raising tax rates on the rich — instead of GOP proposals to simply curb their deductions — to win Obama’s approval of any plan to avoid the "fiscal cliff." …

"To protect the middle class while reducing the deficit, simple math dictates that tax rates must rise on the top 2 percent of taxpayers next year," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said in a statement. "The sooner Republicans grasp that reality, the sooner we can avoid the fiscal cliff." …

Apparently, Harry Reid has as much trouble with math as he does with the truth. Increasing taxes on the wealthy won’t even put a nick in the deficit. As everyone who is not a partisan hack admits.

The tax increase on the wealthy is simply meant to punish them. Which will do wonders for the economy. Which will punish all of us.

GOP aides said their plan was based on one presented by Erskine Bowles, co-chairman of a deficit commission Obama appointed earlier in his term, in testimony to a special deficit "supercommittee" last year.

Huh. And Bowles is a top Democrat. And he was chosen by Obama to come up with a plan, back when Obama was pretending to be doing something about the deficit. Which makes this far more of a bi-partisan plan than Obama’s plan. Which even the Democrats in Congress unanimously opposed.

And yet this article tries to make it sound like the Republican proposal is just a retread of their tired partisan positions. When, in fact, it is a bi-partisan idea.

"The new revenue in the Bowles plan would not be achieved through higher tax rates, which we continue to oppose and will not agree to in order to protect small businesses and our economy," Boehner and fellow Republicans said in a letter to Obama. "Instead, new revenue would be generated through pro-growth tax reform that closes special-interest loopholes and deductions while lowering rates."

By GOP math, the plan would produce more than $2 trillion in budget savings over the coming decade: $800 billion in higher taxes; $600 billion in savings from costly health care programs like Medicare; $300 billion from other proposals such as forcing federal workers to contribute more toward their pensions; and $300 billion in additional savings from the Pentagon budget and domestic programs funded by Congress each year.

Boehner signaled in discussions with Obama in 2011 that he was willing to accept up to $800 billion in higher tax revenues, but his aides maintained that much of that money would have come from so-called dynamic scoring — a conservative approach in which economic growth would have accounted for much of the revenue. Now, Boehner is willing to accept the estimates of official scorekeepers like the Congressional Budget Office, whose models reject dynamic scoring.

Using the administration’s math, GOP aides said, the plan represents $4.6 trillion in 10-year savings. That estimate accounts for earlier cuts enacted during last year’s showdown over lifting the government’s borrowing cap and also factors in war savings and lower interest payments on the $16.4 trillion national debt…

One of the few things the White House and Capitol Hill Republicans can agree on is a framework that would make a "down payment" on the deficit and extend all or most of the expiring Bush-era tax cuts but leave most of the legislative grunt work until next year.

Really? We guess it depends on which newspaper you read.

From the New York Times:

Initial Deficit Cuts Are Sticking Point in Negotiations

By JONATHAN WEISMAN | December 3, 2012

WASHINGTON — For all the growing angst over the state of negotiations to head off a fiscal crisis in January, the parties are farthest apart on a relatively small part of the overall deficit reduction program — the down payment.

President Obama and the House speaker, John A. Boehner, are in general agreement that the relevant Congressional committees must sit down next year and work out changes to the tax code and entitlement programs to save well more than $1 trillion over the next decade.

But before that work begins, both men want Congress to approve a first installment on deficit reduction in the coming weeks. The installment would replace the automatic spending cuts and tax increases that make up the “fiscal cliff,” while signaling Washington’s seriousness about getting its fiscal house in order. That is where the chasm lies in size and scope.

Mr. Obama says the down payment should be large and made up almost completely of tax increases on top incomes, partly because he and Congressional leaders last year agreed on some spending cuts over the next decade but have yet to agree on any tax increases.

Republicans have countered by arguing for a smaller down payment that must include immediate savings from Medicare and other social programs. Republicans, using almost mirror-image language, have said that they do not want to agree to specific tax increases and vague promises of future spending cuts…

Whom to believe? — The answer is probably ‘nobody.’ It’s all just eye wash for the great unwashed.

This article was posted by Steve Gilbert on Tuesday, December 4th, 2012. Comments are currently closed.

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